Didier Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004 and helped the club score four English titles and the European Crown, will no longer be a part of Chelsea. The Ivory Coast striker is bidding farewell to his club of four years and joining hands with China’s Shanghai Shenhua. This switch will unify him with his former Chelsea teammate, Niclolas Anelka.
The announcement came as a shock to many as it came days after he scored the penalty that beat Bayern Munich in last month’s European Champions League final. Drogba has signed up a two-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua to become Chinese Super League’s newest addition of a prominent star. The price tag with this switch is a whopping £200,000 a week, which makes him China’s most well-paid player.
Drogba was quoted as saying, "I have considered all the offers I have received in the past few weeks, but feel that Shanghai Shenhua FC is the right move for me at this time,” as reported on FIFA's website.
"I am looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture and I'm excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League,” he added.
Speaking on what he hoped to achieve out of this switch, he stated, "I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa."
Anelka, previously a France International, switched from Stamford Bridge to Shanghai in January and even tried his luck as the team’s coach whenstepped down in April. Presently, , previously Argentina’s coach, is heading the team and is excited about working with Drogba. Batista feels Drogba is a very valuable addition to the team.
"Drogba is a very good soccer player, his outstanding skills and amazing experience will give us motivation to improve our games," said Batista. He further said, "It is my honor to invite him to join in our team. At last I have to say that the club owner Zhu Jun did his utmost to bring Drogba to Shenhua."
Shanghai is at the moment number 12th in the league having scored only 3 wins in the season. However, that has not dampened Zhu’s spirits, who is Shenhua’s owner. He is very optimistic about Drogba’s addition to the team and expects great returns from it in terms of titles.
Drogba, while playing for Chelsea, scored 157 goals in eight seasons. Drogba has to his credit three English Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups as well as the London Club's much-coveted first European crown.
"We have been wanting to sign Didier for a while, and are very happy that it has finally happened," said Zhu. "He is an incredible player, who has won so many trophies in his career; we feel that his experience and ability will be a very valuable asset to our squad. Shanghai is one of the most influential cities in the world, and we are very excited to welcome Didier here."
Drogba and Anelka are two of the many other international soccer stars to have joined China’s premier football competition. Just last year, Guangzhou Evergrande, a fiercely competitive club, signed Argentinian Dario Conca and Paraguay’s Lucas Barrios. With international players foraying into the Chinese football arena, it is likely that it would attract more players and make the game even more interesting.